West Africa: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali Forge Alliance Against Ecowas

The Sahel region of Africa is a 3,860-kilometre arc-like land mass lying to the immediate south of the Sahara Desert and stretching east-west across the breadth of the African continent.
18 September 2023

Three West African countries, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, have signed a security pact to come to the aid of each other against any rebellion or external aggression, especially by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The three countries, which are under military rule and are struggling to contain insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, signed the pact at the weekend.

Of recent, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali have seen their relations with neighbours and international partners strained following the coups.

The latest coup in Niger soured the relationship between the three countries and the regional bloc, ECOWAS that has threatened to use force to restore constitutional rule in the country.

Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to come to Niger's aid if it is attacked by ECOWAS.

"Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties," according to the charter of the pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States.

It said the other states will assist individually or collectively, including with the use of armed force.

"I have today signed with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, with the aim of establishing a collective defence and mutual assistance framework," Mali junta leader, Assimi Goita, said on his X social media account.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were members of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force with Chad and Mauritania, launched in 2017 to tackle extremists in the region.

Mali has since exited the dormant organisation after a military coup, while deposed Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum said in May last year that the force is now "dead," following Mali's departure.

The relations between France and the three states have become frosty since the military coups that toppled civil rule.

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